Chronic pain treatment is no longer solely about ice, prescriptions, MRIs and surgeries. Millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain are looking inward for ways to minimize their pain. Many sufferers have found real relief in ancient, natural and accessible mindfulness techniques. Activities like yoga and meditation play a role in reducing chronic pain conditions. Mindfulness offers much promise as an alternative chronic pain treatment, and its benefits don’t stop there. Let’s explore mindfulness and how it could be put to work for relief from chronic pain.
Is Mindfulness In Your Chronic Pain Treatment Plan?
The Mind-Pain Connection
The brain and body connection is strong. The relationship between the two gives us insights into how to manage chronic pain. As your body experiences pain, the brain helps you process how that pain feels. One cannot happen without the other. The neuroplasticity of the brain is its ability to adapt to changes. It supports you with new neural pathways as you learn from past experiences, adjust to the environment around you and master new skills. This connection has also been shown to be a key component in how the body copes with chronic pain.
Many chronic pain sufferers also deal with conditions like anxiety and depression, directly related to their pain. New research in neuroscience, physical therapy and psychology explores how the brain’s neuroplasticity can be a factor in reducing physical pain. The case for a connection between mindfulness strategies and pain is solid, with few downsides.
Types of Mindfulness Techniques to apply to your chronic pain treatment:
- Meditation – Meditation has been widely practiced in Eastern parts of the world long before its more recent entry into western culture. In the U.S., the popularity of meditation is skyrocketing. Studies have shown excellent results for meditation as treatment for chronic pain. A Wake Forest University study conducted by Fadel Zeidan in 2011 showed an approximately 40% reduction in pain intensity ratings for patients with chronic pain using meditation than those not practicing meditation.
- Yoga – There are hundreds of types of yoga from power Vinyasa to restorative to chair yoga. In its purest form, yoga is a moving meditation, where practitioners use breath to connect the mind and body. The practitioner is brought back to the present moment. The yogic breathing offers detoxification and destressing benefits while the movement can strengthen essential, supportive muscles. The movement also provides lubrication of tight joints. Proof? Countless studies exist showing that yoga has helped chronic pain-sufferers reduce or eliminate pain related to conditions such as arthritis to fibromyalgia to back issues.
- Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – Jon Kabat-Zinn is credited as the pioneer who brought mindfulness to the West as a possible tool to help patients dealing with pain. In 1985, he led a study that introduced 90 chronic pain patients to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and logged significant success stories. MBSR combines meditation, body awareness, yoga and exploration of patterns of thinking, feeling and action.
Chronic pain sufferers often deal with more than pain. Mindfulness techniques offer more improvement to the brain-pain connection. They also help relieve, reduce or eliminate insomnia, stress and anxiety. Quieting the mind and tapping into inner peace has benefits that reach even farther than chronic pain treatment. Mayv is your source for information about reducing pain, working on inner peace and striving toward a happier existence. Join our community to tap into a wealth of information and support.